The Sno-Isle Libraries operations levy was officially approved Friday, after canvassing boards in Snohomish and Island counties each certified the April 24 election results. The measure passed with a combined 50.46 percent yes votes to 49.54 percent no votes.
The measure failed in Snohomish County but passed in Island County, so passage was based on the combined total of the two counties.
The levy provides 98 percent of the library district’s funding.
“We know that voting for property taxes is a difficult decision for voters,” Sno-Isle Libraries Executive Director Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory said. “While the library district has a long history of public-funds stewardship, the slim margin of passage is a reminder that we must show voters the value they are receiving from their tax dollars every day.”
Woolf-Ivory noted that in addition to waiting nine years between levy-adjustment requests, the library district has received 31 straight years of clean audits from the state Auditor’s Office.
“Now that the levy is approved, we will continue with that same thoughtful approach to our stewardship of public funds,” Woolf-Ivory said. “We hear the message from those who supported the measure and we are just as mindful of the feelings and concerns of those who voted ‘No.’ Our goal is to continue to serve everyone.”
The approved ballot measure will add 9 cents to the levy rate starting in 2019. The rate will go from the current 38 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value to 47 cents. In subsequent years, the levy rate adjusts to keep levy revenue to the library district within the annual limits outlined in state law. As property values rise, the levy rate is adjusted downward. If property values go down, the rate can go up, but never higher than 50 cents.
“Our intent is to follow the same course as in 2009,” Woolf-Ivory said. “We will maintain services with some of the funds and some will go to a reserve account. When expenses outstrip revenue due to the state cap, we’ll begin using the reserve to postpone returning to voters about the levy for as long as possible.”
Securing that long-term funding didn’t happen by itself, she said.
“Passing this levy at this time would not have been possible without the committed efforts of the independent friends-of-the-library groups, advisory boards and community members across the library district,” Woolf-Ivory said.